WOODSTOCK — A judge gave a woman a chance Wednesday to avoid jail time if she completes a drug-abuse treatment program and remains on good behavior.
England Marie Holley appeared in Shenandoah County Circuit Court where she stood charged with two felony counts of possession of a schedule I or II controlled substance, a first offense of maintaining a public nuisance, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, unlawfully entering a vehicle and defrauding a garage keeper.
Judge Kevin Black accepted an agreement reached between Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Strecky and Holley’s lawyer Michael Araj that called for the defendant to enter guilty pleas under Alford v. North Carolina to one count of possession of a schedule I or II controlled substance and the misdemeanor charge of defrauding a garage keeper. A defendant who enters an “Alford plea” retains his or her innocence but acknowledges that the prosecutor has sufficient evidence and he or she does not want to risk a finding of guilt.
The plea agreement calls for the court to grant Holley first-offender status for one count of possession of a schedule I or II controlled substance that includes drug-abuse treatment programs. The deal also calls for the court to withhold adjudication of Holley’s second drug possession count for a year and dismiss the charge if she remains on good behavior during that time. Black also sentenced Holley to 30 days in jail, all time suspended, for defrauding a garage-keeper, to whom she must also pay $400 in restitution, per the agreement.
The court dismissed Holley’s remaining charges at the request of the prosecutor and per the agreement.
Strecky provided a summary of the evidence she planned to present had Holley’s cases gone to trial. A Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office deputy responded to a report of a parked vehicle shortly before 10 p.m. Jan. 21, 2018, and saw a license plate with its date sticker missing. Holley and another female were inside the vehicle, Strecky said. A second deputy arrived and noticed a small handgun near a front seat of the vehicle. During the search of the vehicle, deputies found a metal smoking device with residue that later tested positive by a state laboratory for methamphetamine, Strecky said.
Then, on March 16, authorities responded to a report from JPG Towing that someone, later identified as Holley and co-defendant Ashton Beck Burroughs, removed a vehicle without paying the $400 transportation bill, Strecky said. Burroughs stood charged with the same offenses in the court.
Araj agreed that Strecky presented the evidence she planned to use had the case gone to trial. But Black expressed reservations about accepting the plea agreement. Earlier in the hearing, Black asked Holley why she looked back several times to Burroughs seated in the audience. Black said he questioned her sincerity to follow the agreement.
“This is not a game,” Black said. “This is the rest of your life.”
Black went on to tell Holley she should look at the judge during the hearing and not someone in the back of the courtroom. Black ultimately accepted her pleas and the agreement.
Burroughs, 33, of 1600 Shenandoah Ave., Front Royal, stands indicted in the court on two counts of possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor charges of defrauding a garage keeper, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and unlawfully entering a motor vehicle. The judge continued Burroughs’ cases to Sept. 25.